The weeks after Labor Day heralded the blues; my “beach bum” days were coming to an end. Although I walk the beach daily in all seasons, this summer I took advantage of “paradise found” and spent almost every weekend at the beach. It was truly a memorable summer. Spending quality time with old friends and meeting new friends was just the boost my spirits had needed.
One Sunday in early summer, I was sitting alone. (Not one of my better days.) A young boy and his aunt walked by my beach chair. The boy saw that I was tearful and offered me a “heart rock.” I learned from his aunt that a heart-shaped rock that’s found in the sand is sent to us from our loved ones who have gone on to their spiritual homes. That simple act of kindness was the beginning of my spiritual healing. I’ve since started my own heart rock collection and, bonus, the aunt and her nephew are among my new friends.
But alas, all good (and bad) things come to an end. With that in mind and in an attempt to shake off my melancholy, I took a bike ride. In the distance I noticed little dots of orange in a field. As I got closer the blues were replaced by an old delight. “Pumpkins,” I thought. My pumpkin sighting catapulted me back to another time when memories were made.
In late August, Mom took us to Sears for school shoes and ordered our new school uniforms. For a confessed clothes horse, I detested the green (a pukey green, at that) skirt and white blouse. I tried to jazz it up by adding an angel pin.
Mother Superior’s perpetual frown grew deeper when she spotted it. She emphatically said, “Celia! Not regulation.”
“But Mother,” I said, “it’s an angel pin.”
Lordy, lordy! That’s the worst thing to tell a gal like me. It’s no wonder that I’ve grown to be a tad rebellious. Ah, but we did get over on Mother Superior: We hiked up our uniform skirts, slathered on lipstick and stashed cigarettes in our pencil cases.
Can you blame us? We attended an all-girls school and rode the bus with guys from an all-boys school. (Surging hormones fueled that bus!) In the nick of time, we wiped off our lipstick, unrolled the skirt waistband and sallied forth under Mother Superior’s watchful eyes.
Hallelujah! My uniform days were over. My sister Nancy and I still call sparkling crisp autumn days “black turtleneck and gold locket days.” We wore our turtlenecks and lockets with short skirts, tights and boots. No regulations here! We loved that look then and still do!
While my kids were growing up, the farms on Staten Island that once housed pumpkin and corn fields were replaced by “file cabinet houses.” (A warning, folks!) My kids were ignorant of this fact; therefore it didn’t affect their quest for the perfect supermarket pumpkin.
Once found, our pumpkin sat on the porch without expression until my husband said to our kids, “Ready to give it a face?” Laying down paper on the kitchen table, their dad got out a carving knife and, with the skill of a plastic surgeon, gave the pumpkin a happy face. We placed a candle in the center of the pumpkin and sat around the table telling ghost stories.
I’ve always thought of life as a flowing river; we never step into the same spot twice. That’s why I relish the change of seasons. As sure as I’m writing this, when it’s time to trade my gold locket and turtleneck for jeans and my red jacket, I’ll be madly in love with winter.
My sister Nancy and I will meet in Manhattan soon. By design, we’ll show up in our fall uniform: black turtlenecks, gold lockets, short skirts (not too short) and boots. We’ll laugh, link arms and create golden memories that live on in our hearts.
Ms. Iannelli is a resident of Jamesport.